Cost of Living: Introducing our student researchers

The Access Project is investigating the impact of the cost of living on student prospects. Over the course of 2024, we have explored the strengths and challenges of our programme amidst the backdrop of financial uncertainty, investigating how The Access Project can best support students through the cost of living crisis.

In this final blog post ahead of our cost of living report launch, we hear directly from two of our students, Riveen (Year 12) and Ismail (Year 13) about their experience as co-investigators and their thoughts on the research topic.

Widening Participation in the Cost of Living Crisis

Why did you sign up to be student researchers?

Riveen: Applying to this opportunity was akin to bungee jumping or exposure therapy. I wanted to gain exposure to the researcher’s way of thinking whilst pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I wanted to contribute to The Access Project, a programme that has helped me reach new heights in my life, and I wanted to learn more about social research and understanding how social sciences work.

Ismail: Being on The Access Project has developed my confidence to take part in research programmes that set a baseline for future research tasks that I will carry out on my Psychology course at university. I was able to apply the skills my Psychology teacher taught me to this research.

How has your experience been?

Riveen: Safe to say, the experience has lived up to my expectations. Collaborating and actively contributing to a research project of this scale was a great learning experience. Whilst the initial steps were challenging, it was a satisfying learning curve. It has allowed me to understand the planning, and data recording process, whilst allowing me to practice safe data handling, moderation of focus groups and many more useful skills.

Ismail: This research has enabled me to experience what it is like to be a leading researcher experiencing issues and successes that take place within research. This gave me a first-hand experience and insight of what it is like to conduct a study which will also be useful for my Psychology course.

What are your joint thoughts on our findings?

The topic of Cost of Living and University Choices is a deeply personal one. We had our own presumptions walking into this process, however, the focus group discussion allowed us to view this from multiple student perspectives. The cost of living crisis has made life challenging for everyone and we have seen how it affects education and higher education prospects for many students nationally. It was disheartening to see students fall short on their dreams due to this pressure. But it was also encouraging to see students persevering through, strong and steady.

Stay tuned for our forthcoming research report on the Cost of Living and University Choices. Student voice and participation are central to our work, and if you would like to get in touch about how to include students more in your research, design and evaluation work, please email us at

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